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Stand-alone steamer

Postby sbrussell on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:16 pm

Is there such a thing as a stand-alone steam unit that can produce good microfoam? The fact that I haven't come across one suggests that there is no demand. Why not? Most people who are into espresso make a lot of milk drinks for themselves or others and lack of steam power seems to be a problem with less expensive espresso machines (from the Silvia down).
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Postby HB on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:47 pm

Astra manufactures stand-alone steamers. Quickmill sells an auto milk steamer. Nespresso sells the Aeroccino; I tried it once at Williams-Sonoma. Dry with no texture or sweetness, but the microfoam looked nice. :roll:

If saving money is the main objective and you have a lot of patience, some members report decent results with the Bellman stovetop steamer. Otherwise, it makes more sense to upgrade beyond a single boiler to raise service capacity.
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Postby mitch236 on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:51 pm

HB wrote:Nespresso sells the Aeroccino; I tried it once at Williams-Sonoma. Dry with no texture or sweetness, but the microfoam looked nice. :roll:


True but when we travel, I always bring my nespresso machine and aeroccino. Sure beats the hotel drippers!!
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Postby duke-one on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:56 pm

Long ago when I was very poor I made my own steamer from an old pressure cooker; adding a valve and nozzle. If you try this make sure the safety devices on the pressure cooker are in good working order. Put a "pipe thread nut" behind (inside the cover) the nipple used to attach the valve to the top of the device. Use lead free brass and/or adopt an existing steam arm and nozzle from an espresso machine. Steams like a champ.
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Postby Bak Ta Lo on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:11 pm

I noticed that *$'s keeps powerful standalone milk steamers at some of their stores, not sure who makes them as they are un-badged, maybe Bunn? They are large rectangular stainless steel boxes on a stand with just a steam wand and a on/off lever. The one near my office always has a good 1/8'' of milk cooked on the bottom 2 inches of the wand, but it looks like it is a serious steaming machine. They use them for non-coffee steamed milks, like green tea lattes and chocolate milk. When I taste my wife's drink made with it, the milk seems very well steamed with good micro-foam, much better than the foam from their regularly steamed milks, from the wand on the automatic-o.

They look kind of like this one, $2759.00 : :shock:
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Postby minyungee on Sat May 12, 2012 5:24 pm

I just got a Bellman Stovetop Steamer earlier this week and it works surprisingly well.

Here's a video I made of me making a latte with it.



The hole on the steamer tip is quite small, and it takes a while to get the milk up to temperature. So it's a little tricky knowing when you've incorporated enough air - if you do the "stretch until body temperature" rule, I've found that you get to much foam for even a cappuccino. But once you get the hang of when to stop stretching and when to roll the milk, you can get really good microfoam with it, as you can see in the video.

It also takes a while to heat up to build enough pressure to create steam, but I use the Mypressi Twist with it, and found that by the time it takes me to get ready to pull my shot on the Twist, the Bellman is all ready to go.
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Postby rlevine on Sun May 13, 2012 2:57 pm

thanks for posting that video. i've been wondering for a while now how well that stovetop steamer works.

-randy
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Postby duke-one on Sun May 13, 2012 4:08 pm

Has no one else built their own home-made steamer?
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Postby LaDan on Sun May 13, 2012 4:25 pm

duke-one wrote:Has no one else built their own home-made steamer?
KDM


If you're wondering if were are the only one looking at the pressure cooker and see the potential, then I can admit that I was thinking of the same thing. Seeing that this pot can hold such a large amount of water & steam is very attractive and it has the potential of producing fantastic steam. Probably much better than most prosummer machines.

But I never took on the project since I never really needed it. Sourcing the parts seems a bit of a hassle and probably in the $100-$200 range?
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Postby duke-one on Sun May 13, 2012 6:04 pm

Got the pressure cooker from second hand store, other parts from the hardware store (including the new safety gizmo for it). It was a long time ago but I don't think it cost me very much.
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